Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Public Perjury

Public Perjury     2004      oil on canvas
Former PM John Howard used the media to create a toxic lie for the public. This painting was my document of how he twisted a tragic story into a racist attack on war-torn Islamic women seeking asylum, in order to be re-elected as Australia's most cowardly PM.

(Donated to the Fitzroy Legal Service)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ned's Escape

How is it that Ned Kelly is around to help Burka Woman settle in to Australia? Wasn't he hanged in front of the Australian public nearly 130 years ago?
No! The police forgot to take off his protective headpiece before placing a bag over his head, so the noose didnt tighten around Ned's neck as intended. It merely tightened around the headpiece, which dented a little at the pressure. Luckily, Ned had a really strong neck, as he was able to stay dangling there until night-time. Once the coast seemed clear, he jerked his head around a bit, finally working himself free of the dented armour and jumped down to the ground. Apart from a few facial grazes, he was fine and in high spirits. He managed to steal a horse, and ride off to live his dream somewhere else!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Come now Mother, she wants to go with Ned.

Burka Woman is not alone on the ship to Australia. 
She is travelling with her cousin and Aunty. 
She meets Ned Kelly, and wants to hang out with him for a while. 
No wonder, he looks so strong and brave.
Burka's old Aunty tries to warn the headstrong young Burka Woman about the risks involved in going off with strangers, especially heroes and outlaws....but the old woman's daughter  reassures her mother that Ned seems like a pretty good catch, and reminds her also that Burka Woman needs a new friend to help her recover from the brutal death of her husband. 
(He had been tortured to death by US soldiers back in Iraq.)


Friday, December 4, 2009

Burka Woman at Sea

Here is Burka Woman as an asylum seeker on the ship heading to Australia. The hour is early, the deck empty. Is she facing forward looking ahead to Australia? Or is she looking back at her old country. The mood is pensive.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breast Trek

This one is about Burka Women heading to Australia...
the land of cupcakes with cherries on top, or sand dunes with cherries on top...
or the land where the body is less covered in public...
less covered in the sun despite the lack of ozone...
all these things were in my mind as I painted Breast Trek. 
I finished up wondering about the stats regarding number of Iraqi women with breast cancer compared with Australian women.
In Australia, one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. 
In the Middle East, there are no statistics that I can research, 
as breast cancer is still largely seen as shameful and taboo in the fundamentalist Islamic world.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In the beginning...

Towards the end of the final decade of the final century of the last millenium, when everything was very very different...about 13 years ago...I first began to draw the characters Ned Kelly and Burka Woman side by side. Back then, I used to ponder on the similarity of their garb and the dissimilarity of their reasons for wearing such outfits. I was quite fascinated by my discovery, and their images appeared quite often in my notebooks.
Our family used to travel from our Wimmera home to the Eastern alps every year for holidays when I was a kid, and Dad never passed through Glenrowan without stopping outside the Ned Kelly museum. We loved the Big Ned Kelly statue in the main street of Glenrowan, as well as the statues on top of the shops depicting the shoot-out between Ned and the cops. Ned's story was our very own home-grown legend, like our own true version of a Western movie.
Then years later, I found myself teaching English to adults from lots of different countries in London. Two women in my class had been sent from Saudi Arabia by their husbands to learn Beginner's English. They would sit in my class dressed in full burqa, and I was fascinated. I was only 22 years old, and had never seen such garments in my rural Australian past. These women protested passionately when I attempted to take a class photo at the end of the course...another student in the class, a man also from Saudi, explained to me that generally women were not allowed to be photographed, only men.
Later on, whilst travelling for two years throughout Asian countries, I would see women in burqas sitting outside museums, temples, forts, palaces, mosques...Sometimes I would sit beside them outside these tourist places as they waited for their husbands to finish sightseeing inside, and I would ask them about their lives...
The short film above is called a True Story and a Love Story. At first I painted the war scenes in it in response to the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq, and called this a True Story. Then Ned Kelly happened to come along, and for Burka Woman...her horror story turned into a Love Story. The paintings from this film make up the first of the Ned and Burka series.